If there is one Phillies trade to be made between now and the Aug. 1 deadline, it could involve an outfielder for the sole reason that a logjam is near. Aaron Altherr is halfway through his minor-league rehab assignment. Nick Williams, one of the organization's top prospects, has a hit in 26 of his last 28 games at triple A.
Manager Pete Mackanin has no idea what to expect in the next two weeks. A revamped outfield is a good bet.
"It's so much out of my hands that I don't even worry about it," he said. "We'll make adjustments when we have to."
For a hint as to what the outfield in August and September could resemble, Williams has recently spent considerable time in left field while Altherr primarily rehabs as a rightfielder. The Phillies have spread Williams across all three outfield spots, but not until July has he focused on left. He started 12 of his last 17 games there.
Altherr, who joined single-A Clearwater on Monday after 10 days in the Gulf Coast League, should make his return from significant wrist surgery sometime next week. His 20-day rehab clock ends on July 27, which means he must be activated from the disabled list the following day. The Phillies could option Altherr to triple-A Lehigh Valley if they believe he needs more at-bats before seeing big-league pitchers.
But Mackanin made it sound as if Altherr will be in the majors once the rehab stint concludes.
"This was an important year to really see how good he could be," Mackanin said. "Let's say he finishes the last two months of the season. That could give us a better indication. But it's a shame we couldn't find out watching him play the whole year."
Altherr, 25, is far from a guarantee after 39 impressive games last season. But with impending outfield decisions, the Phillies probably will use every opportunity they can in 2016 to evaluate Altherr in the majors.
That will squeeze Peter Bourjos and Cody Asche, both of whom made their cases more interesting with hot-hitting Junes. Bourjos is a free agent at season's end, while Asche will hit arbitration this winter. The next two weeks could indicate how the Phillies view them in relation to future plans.
Veteran reliever Andrew Bailey has been scored upon in four of his last five appearances and he has increasingly been used in lower-leverage situations. "We're not giving up on him," Mackanin said. "But he needs to show some improvement." . . . On Tuesday, Vince Velasquez will make his fourth start since returning from the disabled list. He struck out 20 and walked four with a 2.12 ERA in the first three.